Section 504 is part of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which created groundbreaking protections for those with disabilities in the United States. Section 504 prevents discrimination in employment, access to services, and benefits for individuals based on their disability by organizations and governments that receive federal funding. For Section 504 to apply, the individual must be qualified in all other respects for a job or service, and the disability must limit a “major life activity” such as walking or seeing. An employer must make “reasonable” accommodations for an individual’s disability in order to work or receive services. What constitutes reasonable is highly litigated and is a case by case inquiry, but courts generally acknowledge certain standards like smaller businesses and organizations have less capacity than larger ones to accommodate.
[Last updated in July of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]